Why do you need a technology plan when you scale a business? What happens if you don’t have one? When do you need it, and what’s involved in putting that into practice?
In today’s world, most people would agree that technology is essential in business. Digital is key to operations across core and supporting processes. Many businesses use tech to provide unique offerings and beat the competition. So, doesn’t it make sense to have a technology plan?
In this three-part series, we take an in-depth look at technology plans for scale-ups. In part-one we look at the why, and in part-two, how you put a plan together. Part-three then looks at moving from the plan into using a roadmap to make it happen.
Looking for an in-depth guide on Strategic Planning? Check out Strategic Planning: An Essential Guide to More Success. An in-depth article on strategic planning to help you create a more successful business future. It’s a step-by-step guide from theory to action.
What happens if you don’t have a technology plan?
The adage “fail to plan, plan to fail” is true of many areas of business. What does that look like for tech? Business is so dependent on tech, that getting it wrong can cripple a business. Typically, it’s not one thing: It’s not being able to adapt fast enough, operational problems and higher operating costs. More like death by a thousand cuts. Often by the time you realise, it’s too late.
When to start
Every business should have a technology plan, and every business should be aware of how tech might impact their business. Having said that, for a start-up it’s likely to involve monitoring trends and a simple plan unless you’re making a serious investment. As you move from start-up to scale-up the earlier you start planning the better. Certainly, before scaling it makes sense to have all your ducks in a row.
Why have a technology plan?
Although there is an upfront cost to planning, the reason you plan is to be successful. There are many different approaches, and if you select one and focus your resources, you’ll get more bang for the buck. Here are six reasons to consider:
Reason 1: Direction
The technology plan helps your organisation reach its destination. If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll be sure to get there. Following the latest fad or trend will certainly be interesting, however you’ll find you’ve wasted time and money. Agreeing the direction of travel will help ensure that your investments will move you toward your target.
Reason 2: Priorities
Now you know the direction of travel, it’s much easier to see what’s important and what’s a side show. When you see the gap between where you are and where you want to be, it’s easier to work out priorities. Once you have the big picture, you’ll start to see the investments as stepping-stones to where you want to be.
Reason 3: Everything falls into place
Once you know what the stepping-stones are, you’ll see how everything fits into place. Instead of ad-hoc investment, you’ll see how the different components work together as part of the bigger picture. This avoids the silo thinking that results in duplication and high IT costs. Planning helps keep the overall solution simple, which means effective solutions at less cost.
Reason 4: Simpler decisions
A technology plan involves making upfront decisions. Those decisions reduce the options to consider. For example, if you choose a cloud first approach, then you’ll focus on cloud solutions in the future. Let’s consider a journey from London to Cornwall, if you chose to travel by car, then that would likely lead to decisions about using certain motorways. You’d also exclude visiting Scotland because it would be too much out of your way. Once you have a plan of where you’re going and how to get there, choices are clearer.
Reason 5: Alignment
The purpose of any plan is to organise people and resources to reach a goal. People can have the best of intentions, yet without structure, can sleepwalk into chaos. This is how it works. The company has a problem and comes up with a solution. People think the solution is good. This solution then expands and takes on a life of its own. Then there’s another problem, and another solution. When you add up all the solutions over time, each going along their own path, you end up with misalignment. There are overlaps and they become bloated with things that people thought were a good idea at the time. With all this extra baggage that’s not quite aligned with the business, along with duplication and overlaps, adds up to inefficiency and a higher running cost.
Reason 6: Communication
The other reason for a technology plan is easier communication. Getting everyone on the same page is half the battle. If you all agree where you’re headed and how you’re going to get there, then everyone can get on board. When everyone’s doing their own thing, its frustrating because it saps up energy. Once people know what they’re aiming for, they can engage and feel part of something bigger. That’s not only engaging, but also creates its own energy.
In the past people viewed Information Technology as a supporting function. Today, it’s vital to the core processes and business model. Thinking about where you’re headed and matching that with a technology plan is a smart way forward. You can invest time and money in building the stepping-stones to get you there. Avoiding distractions and side shows and getting everyone on board will help you get there quicker.
If you’d like to explore the ideas in this article further or need help and advice, please contact Rogan at firstname.lastname@example.org – to arrange an informal chat.
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